Words from the EDA PresidentPublished 29/3, 2016 at 11:16
Hazardous (waste) times
Just a few days ago, the European Decontamination Institute (EDI) held in Brussels the very first European Decontamination Forum, to highlight the urgent need for a proper framework to identify, remove and handle hazardous waste from construction and demolition sites.
Of course, we all know about asbestos. We, the demolition industry, have being dealing with it for decades now, removing what was originally considered a “star” material, with so many benefits and excellent properties.
Even today, there are lots of countries in the World that still allow to produce and commerce with asbestos.
But we had to go beyond asbestos, and for that reason, EDI organized this first forum. The demolition industry is concerned about the health and safety of its workers, and really suspected there was much more.
A few other substances are starting to gain more relevance as hazardous waste: heavy metals (lead, copper, zinc,…), some carcinogenic substances, silica dust and the big, big problem will be the group called Persistent Organic Pollutants (also known as POP).
Even though most of our industry does not know about this, there is every year an International Conference (each year on a different country of the World) with hundreds of professionals discussing about POP.
POP are substances that are produced by humans (not found in nature) for multiple reasons (for construction products, pesticides, glues, oils, stabilizers,…) and those substances cannot be processed by our bodies, so they produce all sorts of pathologies (cancer, allergies,…).
Just to give some figures, there are almost 2.000 POP under surveillance now, and only about 20 are forbidden to produce and commerce with (as they are already identified as they can be replaced by other substances). Some of these 20 forbidden are PCB, some flame retardant types,…
That does not mean that the rest of them are not harmful. Scientists are looking for replacement for those POP and on the mean time the industries can still include them on their products (!!!!!).
Were you ever told to be aware or search for flame retardants containing POP in ANY demolition site? Believe it or not, this is a forbidden substance and hazardous waste since 10 years ago.
We feel like we are missing information, and for this reason EDA created the European Decontamination Institute, which is now starting to work on these issues.
But the first findings of the work done by EDI are scary, to say the least. We are all surrounded by hundreds of potentially hazardous substances, from which we know very little, and very few people seem to be interested to take care of this.
Just to give you another scary number. According to the website of the European Agency for Chemicals (ECHA), just by searching for chemicals under surveillance on the European REACH on building materials you will find over 800 substances.
Well, you get the idea. It is hazardous (waste) times.
If you are interested in getting involved or have feedback please contact EDA at: www.europeandemolition.org
Pilar de la Cruz
President of the European
The EDA was founded in 1978 and is the leading platform for national demolition associations, demolition contractors and suppliers. The EDA has a strong focus on developments in Europe, which are of interest to the demolition industry.